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Contractors for finishing basement

Discussion in 'Homeowners Corner' started by ssripada, Jul 19, 2004.

  1. bbnsteele

    bbnsteele New Member

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    I wanted to do a follow up on this so that folks on this forum could use this as a point of reference for evaluating a contractor. I hired Wayne Keller of Keller & Sons last Sept. to finish my basement.
    Our goal was to finish before Christmas. Well, I am pleased to say that WK hit our time frame. He is laying down carpet this Monday and we will done by the end of next week.
    Right from the start I thought this guy was too good to be true. He was professional with me and my family (including the dog). He has a set group of subcontractors that he uses and manages well. He proactively QA'd his own work and subcontractors work, to the point that he was fixing things that I probably would not have even noticed. He handled our change orders on the fly with honesty and provided decent pricing, not great pricing, but fair pricing. The lesson learned here is to make sure you are crystal clear on what you want with lighting, carpets, Etc.. If you don't communicate this with a contractor then you might be disappointed with the builder quality item. Most of the items that I changed/upgraded I didn't ask for in the original quote. Although, most of the items that he considered standard were a grade or two better than the typical builders quality. A good example would be the recessed lighting cans that he picked out. We ended up upgrading the carpet.

    The point is that WK went above and beyond our expectations on the experience and the end result. I am more than willing to show the work to any of WK's potential customers and will hire him again for some additional work that we will do in the near future. If you want anymore details on our experience feel free to post here and I will answer.

    One other note: WK didn't give my any discounts, referral perks for posting this to the forum....I am not even sure he knows that this forum exists. I just like good work and feel that others could benefit from my experience. I was planning on posting if the work was good, fair, or bad. Wayne's phone number is 571-722-4313.

    Doug
     
  2. rlab

    rlab New Member

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    Hi Doug,

    How big is the area that they finished? What was you cost for the drywall and lighting if you don't mind my asking?

    Thanks,
    rlab
     
  3. bbnsteele

    bbnsteele New Member

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    Hello rlab,

    I had him finish a little over 1800 sq feet. As to pricing, I had asked him for the package deal so I don't know what the lighting/drywall costs were as stand alone items. His pricing in general was the best out there....
     
  4. sshroyer

    sshroyer New Member

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    I can tell you who NOT to use...CASE Design. Unless, of course, you have a lot of money to spend. I believe they do a good job but they are EXTREMELY expensive. They gave me an estimate of $12,700 for a 5 foot wetbar!
     
  5. va_native

    va_native New Member

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    I can tell you who not to use: JC Streets! Learn from our mistake. He started our basement and still hasn't finished...going on 7 months...Our entire house was built in less time. Don't let his price fool you...it was not worth the savings at all.
     
  6. shamm

    shamm New Member

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    So, do I need to have skills and tools and time? I would like to learn as I go with someone watching what I'm doing. Just wondering if I would be way too over my head going this route.

     
  7. L0stS0ul

    L0stS0ul hmmmm

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    Well I'm about to have inspections done but so far it has not been bad. I've run the electrical myself with the help of my father. We did the duct work for the heating vent. We've also got the whole room framed. From my experience this is what we have used as far as tools so far:

    1. A good mitre saw for cutting the 2x4's
    2. A good hammer and a good mallet (the mallet is for putting in the concrete nails)
    3. A really good cordless screw driver. 18volt (you really want the power)
    4. Metal shears

    I can't really think of any other items that we used right now. Maybe a good shop light so you can see what you are doing :)

    Other than that it's pretty much materials. Al was really good about estimating what we would need. I came up only a few 2x4's over (it's always good to have a few extra). He ordered all of the framing materials for me. That included all of the 2x4's (pressure treated and non pressure treated), all of the molding, and a door for the closet.

    I did have to purchase all of the electrical supplies myself and nails and stuff. I do recommend after hammering and destroying my hands :) that you use the wood screws. It goes so much faster with less injury lol. I would not have thought it would have been faster but that's what the 18 volt screw driver is for. It really plows those screws into the wood.

    The only parts that I have found hard so far were framing the closet (because we had to create a dropped ceiling), getting the electrical wires over the already finished part of the basement, and cutting the hole in the existing duct work for our new vent (I did that yesterday and man did that suck even with the proper tools). Other than that everything else has been pretty easy.

    Al has been great. His wood estimates were right on and so far it's been a joy working with him like this. I've got the room completely framed now with all of the electrical done and I'd say I've spent less that $1000 at this point for everything. We are going to have Al's contractor do the drywall because I think that's a little to difficult for me and that should run about $1500 or so for the materials and labor I believe. So all in all once I pay Al's fee and finish the drywall the 18x14 room, a 6x6 closet, 4 recessed lights, 1 quad media box, and 9 outlets will run me around $3000. That's almost half what what I was quoted by many contractors. That does not include flooring though. Neither do the other estimates that I have received. We still have not decided on what we are going to do for the floor yet.

    I do recommend getting a good how to book. Al will give you a guide on the county codes and stuff but that's very limited and only about 2 pages long. You will really want a builders how to guide to help you thru some of the more interesting areas. Like framing a drop ceiling closet if you have to :)

    Hope that helps.
     
  8. volvo_nut

    volvo_nut New Member

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    Glad to hear Wayne worked out. our basement has been doing great! I plan to call him for more work very soon.
     
  9. shamm

    shamm New Member

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    We spoke with some neighbors and they indicated that a number of people in this area have used Potomac with very good results. Anyone confirm or deny that?
     
  10. rlab

    rlab New Member

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    If you had your basement finshed, was it already insulated? If so did you have the walls built "in front" of the insulation or did you tear out the old insulation first?

    We have insulation already "nailed" to the wall. It has a shiny silver side facing inwards.
     
  11. Tech Head

    Tech Head New Member

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    I just used the insulation nailed to the wall. Our basement is the warmest part of our house in the winter and the coolest in the summer. No need to add insulation - the ground is the best insulator.
     
  12. L0stS0ul

    L0stS0ul hmmmm

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    You don't tear down the insulation. You frame in front of it.
     
  13. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    I took the installed insulation down and re-insulated. It added several inches to the size of the rooms. Also kept the "wall width" down to a reasonable size, especially around openings.

    Additionally, by taking down the insulation you have a chance to inspect the foundation for cracks or potential leak issues. My brother in law's builder, insulated the entire basement. As it turned out he was covering up several flaws. What was thought to be an unexpected "enhancement" was actually devious.

    I'd also suggest checking the "gaps" between the top of your foundation and the first floor sill plate. The area in between the floor joists. Tends to be a neglected area for caulk. I pulled out the insulation in the spaces between the joists. Found I could see light coming in. Chalked the obvious areas, then replaced the insulation. Huge difference in the feel of the basement.
     
  14. rlab

    rlab New Member

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    afgm - Did you reuse the insulation or install new?

    Was it worth the effort for several extra inches?
     
  15. afgm

    afgm Ashburn Farm Resident

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    I thought it was worth it. If you save yourself four inches on one side, and "say" three inches on the other side, you've added 7 inches to your room. Multiple that by the length of the room, and it can be a substancial increase in square footage. With that said, many don't think it's worth the effort. In my opinion, it made for a cleaner construction project.

    I did reuse the insulation. Most of it was used for "stuffing", into places around the sill plate, window pockets, bathroom exhaust vent outlet, and door pocket areas. I also founds several other areas that had not be insulated adequately, and used it in those places. I was amazed at how quickly that stuff disappeared. I don't think I threw out much of the original stuff.

    Batting insulation is relatively cheap, and makes for a clean and tight installation. For the spaces between the studs, I used new rolled faced insulation.

    Now the real debate was whether to install plastic along the foundation, before putting up the walls. But that is another subject.

     
  16. rlab

    rlab New Member

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    Here is something that occured to me this weekend, If you leave the insulation up that has the shiny side facing the interior - and then frame in front of it, you would already have a vapor barrier in place, wouldn't you?

    I mean the insulation that is nailed to the wall already has vapor protection in place doesn't it?
     
  17. Dawne

    Dawne HOA VP/Tech Comm

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    We're doing our basement ourselves - little by little - and we agree with taking down the insulation tacked to the walls. Overall, we gain nearly a foot (4-6 inches on each side) in the width of the room. Multiply that by the length of the area and you're talking some decent square footage...

    Plus, I agree with afgm, it gives you a chance to check the walls closely. We did find large gaps at the house foundation/sill plate areas - we went around the entire foundation with expandable foam stuff (Great Stuff). About three cans sealed it up. Less drafts, no bugs, etc.

    We reused the wall insulation also - exactly the same ways - though we also put some in the overhead joists for soundproofing from the first floor. And we did put up a vapor barrier (plastic sheeting) against the concrete foundation before any studs were installed. Better safe than sorry.

    Also, if you don't take out the insulation and free-stand the walls about 4-6 inches out, you have to install fire breaks at the top of each wall you build - all the way around the basement. I can see where that would be a little tedious.

    Again, I'm with afgm - taking the insulation off and putting the studs against the walls has enough benefits (IMO) to justify the work of stripping it off.

    Finally, I wouldn't count on the existing insulation as a vapor barrier. It might make code, but I much prefer the plastic installed. Stapled to the first floor sill plate then wrapped to the ground with the basement sill plate on top of it seems to make a much better seal.

    Dawne
     
  18. dandj

    dandj New Member

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    F.M. Restoration LLC - Felix Morino - (703) 304-5385 - Excellent work! Tell him Daryl Draper sent you his way.
     
  19. rlab

    rlab New Member

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    Anyone use Master Crafters?
     
  20. shamm

    shamm New Member

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    I know this is a little dated, but based on some of the recommendations here and from some neighbors I asked a number of folks to come by and give me quotes: Wayne Keller, Mike Rossario, Al Barney/Premire, Kenny Williams, and Potomac West.

    We haven't gone ahead yet and had it done because to be honest, it was a little more pricey than I had expected. However, I found them all to be professional and responsive. Each had ideas about how things should be done, different items they would include or exclude, and timing issues. In the end, they were all within about 15% of each other, with Potomac West being the most expensive.

    Becuase we didn't move ahead, I can't really recommend any of them to you, but if you were wondering, it would appear that pricing appears to be fairly standard. What doesn't figure in are the build ins or extras that some bids put in that others didn't that aren't priced out by item. I appreciated all of them coming and doing bids and giving me ideas that I hadn't thought about before. Also, the comment about Mike Rossario's price being so much higher (posted above) didn't turn out to be true, at least for my bid.

    shamm
     

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